WHENEVER there is a forecast for a good easterly in Albany, windsurfer Joseph Presti knocks off work and makes the 400km journey south from Perth to what he describes as one of the best stretches of water for his beloved sport.
Presti has been windsurfing for the past 34 years and said the flat water at the south-western end of Albany’s Princess Royal Harbour along Frenchman Bay Road’s “smelly mile” was his first choice.
“It has the most consistent winds and flat water in the state,” he said.
“It’s more than worth driving the 800km round trip when the wind is right.
“I’ve got a friend from Cairns that says it’s his favorite spot. He broke two of his personal records there last year.
“I drive to Shark Bay and the Peel Inlet at Mandurah as well, but Albany is worth taking the time off work to wind surf on.”
On a good day, the windsurfers can nearly keep up with the cars on the road adjacent to the harbour that are clocking 80mkh.
Eleven years ago, Presti came up with the idea to change individual-based sport for Australians into a community-based challenge.
“After chatting with a few friends who were windsurfers, I decided to put it to the community if they were interested in an annual windsurfing competition,” he said.
“It pretty much went from there and is now also an international competition that people enter. Last year’s international winner was a team from Belgium.”
The GPS Team Challenge consists of solo and team competitors wearing a GPS during a wind-surfing session and uploading the data to the team challenge website.
“The GPS records everything we do on the water, from our average speed we track in an hour to the average speed we cover in a nautical mile,” Presti said.
“We upload the data, which gets converted into points that ranks us for the competition.”
While four seasonal trophies are up for grabs as well as a perpetual trophy for the end of the year, Presti said most windsurfers are only after one thing.
“It’s all for the glory and bragging rights,” he said.
“My team ‘Mandurah Mob’ has won each of the seasonal trophies this year, the first time ever as well.
“While it’s great we won them all, and will probably win overall for the year, the fact that we did it and made GPS Team Challenge history is more impressive.”
Presti said it’s not too late for local windsurfers to join the Mandurah Mob for the challenge, or to create their own team.
“We’ve got 28 members in our team. Four are from Albany, in fact,” he said.
“We always welcome new members. We’ve got a great community in our team.
“You don’t need to be competitive to join. We’ve got members that windsurf just for the fun of it.”
For more information on the GPS Team Challenge you can visit their website www.gpsteamchallenge.com.au.